Acai (Euterpe oleracea) is a monoecious and multi stemmed palm common in the vegetation of the Amazon and parts of South America.
It is a palm with a slender stem, distinguished by its tall and slender stipes, which can reach 8 to 25 feet high by 7 to 20 centimeters in diameter.
This palm is increasingly becoming more popular because of its many uses in both food and in the tradition of tropical people. It is currently being investigated because of its great importance for its medicinal uses.
The Latin name of this species of palm, oleracea, tells us some of the nutritional properties of fruit.
Indeed, oleracea describes the property of oil content of the acai fruit, predominantly fats including omega 9 type or monounsaturated oleic acid.
In addition, acai has a very high content of insoluble fiber and anthocyanins, both being antioxidants that give acai fruit a blue or purple color.
Historical consumption of acai
Acai has been part of the culture and cuisine of indigenous people for centuries. Its use dates from pre-Columbian times and even today it is an important dietary mainstay for many people, besides being an agricultural product which employs thousands of families, both at harvest and in the manufacture of acai.
In the image : Acai palm (Euterpe oleracea).
Acai is grown intensively in the Amazon territory from 1980, and it is destined for export trade of its fruit (Acai pulp) or for acai hearts.
Currently, many environmental groups warn of the ecological impacts posed against acai palm farms in virgin forest, most destined for pulping or palm, as they lack a reforestation program later.
- More information of acai antioxidant properties in the listing above
Did you know ...
The Acai palm is widely grown in the Amazon, where it has adapted to its climate and seasonal flooding.
It has been extended so much that it occupies an area the size of Switzerland.
MAIN BENEFITS OF ACAI PRODUCTS
EDIBLE USES OF ACAI
Acai fresh fruit
Acai fruits are drupes, a type of fleshy fruits with a seed inside, like grapes. They are dark purple and covered with a light gray skin. Acai fruit flavor is unique, a sort of combination of flavors from berries with dark chocolate ... Delicious!
This fruit is very perishable, so, after harvest, it must be quickly transported to the processing pulp plant to obtain acai pulp that is sold frozen, fresh or powdered.
Main curative properties of acai
As its name indicates, it is the acai fruit pulp, extracted under pressure to separate the seed and the epicarp. This fruit is very perishable, so between his collection and processing into pulp of acai must be typically spent between 7 and 11 hours maximum . Due to its rapid deterioration, acai pulp is mostly sold frozen.
In Brazil, the acai pulp is part of the usual diet in the region of Belem do Pará, and sold in numerous food products, such as frozen pulp, the vinho de açaí, ice cream, etc..
In other countries like Venezuela, Bolivia or Peru, acai is scarcely used in the cuisine, except by acai indigenous people of Amazonas in Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru, in the form of fruit or juice.
It is the juice made from the pulp of acai. Despite its name, this is not fermented, neither it possess alcohol content, but the designation is assigned by the similarity of the acai juice with purple wine.
The acai wine is the most popular way to eat acai. In Belem do Para is eaten with tapioca flour and sugar, although it is usually consumed without cassava flour or sugar.
Also named as "huasai juice" , this wine has distinctive nutty flavor with a thick texture and slightly oily appearance.
Advertised as a potent antioxidant, some trademarks even add other antioxidants fruits to enhance its effects.
In general, palm hearts are the tender hearts of young stems of some kinds of palms, as the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), the jusará (Euterpe edulis) or the acai palm ( Euterpe oleracea). This food can also be called: palmito, palm cabagge, heart of palm or swamp cabbabe.
In the case of acai, an acai palm for the extraction of palm hearts is less than 4 meters high and 8 inches in diameter or less.
Specifically, the palm heart is the top of the stipe or young stem of the palm. Two of the four leaf sheaths are deleted and is a white and smooth "pulp" remaining, called the acai heart.
The palms are a traditional delicacy in Brazil and exported throughout the world as a canned food. The export of palm has a high social and economic impact in many areas of the Amazon, where it represents the main cultivated product and the main source of income for many families.
Once extracted from the pulp of the drupe, seeds and roots of acai are dried in the sun.
Acai seeds are used in crafts and jewelry for making necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc..
The dried root of acai is used for infusions or decoctions , for medicinal purposes to purify the liver (used in cases of jaundice), and kidney problems. ( See medicinal properties of acai in the listing above)
Acai leaves and stems
The leaves and stems of acai have been used for making rafters of roofs of houses in the Amazonian people. Also to manufacture hats, brooms and baskets.
The stipe (stem) of the palm is resistant to pests and it is also used for building houses and furniture.
Festivals and curiosities of Acai
- "Festa do Açaí" is a popular festival held in Corajá, Manaus (Brazil) the most important place in the production of Acai in this country. In the last half of May, Corajá becomes the world capital of acai, a fruit with the greatest cultural, gastronomic and economic regional importance.
It is estimated that nearly 50,000 attendees come to this place . In this festival one can assist to concerts, there is a market to buy Acai crafts, dining areas for the sale of this fruit (cakes, wine, desserts, ...), and, in general, it is a place of celebration and promotion of the local economy.
- In October, the peak harvest time in the city of São Luís (Maranhão, Brazil), the "Festa da Juçara" is celebrated . This festival has taken place for more than 40 years in honor of this palm.
- Many songs in Brazil are dedicated or named after the Acai. Gal Costa, known Brazilian singer, dedicated a song to this tree with the same title, "Açaí". Brazilian singer Djavan is one with another song which is called "the Acai".
- However, the Brazilian singer Nilson Chavez wrote the song Açai flavor, which has become the anthem of this fruit.